Failed Waterproofing May Have Caused Florida's Surfside Building Collapse - Report

Even as more than 150 people still missing after the collapse of a high-rise condominium complex near Miami, reports suggest that serious lapses in carrying out timely restoration had probably caused serious structural damage.

Morabito Consultants engineering firm had told Surfside officials in 2018 that waterproofing under the pool deck of the condominium had failed and was preventing water from draining off.

Concrete Deterioration

"The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially," the consulting group had said, according to the Associated Press.

Video before collapse
Screenshot of debris falling moments before the Miami condo collapsed Twitter

The report submitted after the Champlain Towers South condominium board took up studies to determine the extent of repairs and restoration needed for the tower.

The AP report says that the cost of major repairs was estimated to be as much as $ 9 million, and the residents were expected to make the payments by July 1. The payment would have ranged from $80,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $300,000 for a penthouse.

The project report showed that much of the planned work for the building's 136 units was in the pool area and the facade.

No Major Repair was Undertaken

However, no major repair was undertaken so far except some roof repairs even though the structural engineers had stated that several major repairs had to be done as soon as possible.

Florida building collapse
Florida building collapse Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, a former general contractor, who is also a lawyer specializing in construction-failure cases, told Reuters that the structural damage identified in the Morabito report were the main cause of the disaster.

However, the attorneys of the residents' association dispute the claims. Lawyer Donna DiMaggio Berger told the news agency that the problems with the buildings mentioned in the report 'typical' for older buildings in the area. The findings were routine that they did not alarm neither the board members who all lived in the tower.

The 12-storey Champlain Towers South Condo on Collins Avenue in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach, collapsed with a loud bang on Thursday night. According to the witnesses the tragedy happened when most residents were still in bed. The tower crumpled with "a bang that just kept on going," they said.

Following the collapse, a report by the New York Post said the building was 'sinking for decades'. The paper cited a 2020 study conducted by Shimon Wdowinski, a professor at Florida International University, which found the building was in bad shape.